Cost of Living in Chiang Mai

Summary about cost of living in Chiang Mai, Thailand:

Edit Range
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant 1.55 $ 1.13-2.83
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course 14.13 $ 10.74-28.26
McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) 5.65 $ 5.62-7.07
Domestic Beer (1 pint draught) 1.72 $ 1.41-2.83
Imported Beer (12 oz small bottle) 3.25 $ 2.54-8.48
Cappuccino (regular) 1.62 $ 1.13-2.26
Coke/Pepsi (12 oz small bottle) 0.53 $ 0.42-1.13
Water (12 oz small bottle) 0.28 $ 0.25-0.57
Milk (regular), (1 gallon) 6.88 $ 4.28-9.63
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb) 1.16 $ 0.92-2.12
Rice (white), (1 lb) 0.48 $ 0.26-0.58
Eggs (regular) (12) 1.48 $ 1.02-2.03
Local Cheese (1 lb) 8.41 $ 4.49-19.23
Chicken Fillets (1 lb) 0.83 $ 0.41-1.03
Beef Round (1 lb) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat) 5.13 $ 2.56-7.69
Apples (1 lb) 0.92 $ 0.51-1.15
Banana (1 lb) 0.57 $ 0.32-0.90
Oranges (1 lb) 0.60 $ 0.45-1.03
Tomato (1 lb) 0.60 $ 0.19-1.10
Potato (1 lb) 0.50 $ 0.38-0.64
Onion (1 lb) 0.42 $ 0.26-0.81
Lettuce (1 head) 0.76 $ 0.42-1.13
Water (1.5 liter bottle) 0.45 $ 0.34-0.57
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 14.84 $ 8.48-19.78
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) 1.66 $ 0.99-2.12
Imported Beer (12 oz small bottle) 3.07 $ 1.41-4.52
Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro) 4.03 $ 2.83-4.24
One-way Ticket (Local Transport) 0.85 $ 0.85-0.99
Monthly Pass (Regular Price) 28.26 $ 22.61-28.26
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) 1.41 $ 0.99-2.83
Taxi 1 mile (Normal Tariff) 1.14 $ 0.68-2.05
Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff) 5.09 $ 3.39-5.65
Gasoline (1 gallon) 4.56 $ 3.32-5.09
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) 21,195.68 $ 21,195.68-33,913.08
Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car) 30,144.96 $ 22,608.72-33,913.08
Utilities (Monthly)
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 915 sq ft Apartment 59.33 $ 28.26-127.17
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans) 0.04 $ 0.03-0.06
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) 19.00 $ 14.13-27.13
Sports And Leisure
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult 31.73 $ 25.43-50.87
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 5.93 $ 4.24-8.48
Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat 4.24 $ 3.39-7.91
Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child 447.46 $ 282.61-588.77
International Primary School, Yearly for 1 Child 9,071.75 $ 7,065.23-12,152.19
Clothing And Shoes
1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) 56.88 $ 14.13-79.13
1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, ...) 22.75 $ 8.48-42.39
1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range) 66.06 $ 42.39-84.78
1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes 69.44 $ 39.57-98.91
Rent Per Month
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 308.51 $ 226.09-452.17
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 201.09 $ 113.04-325.00
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 734.78 $ 565.22-989.13
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 432.39 $ 310.87-706.52
Buy Apartment Price
Price per Square Feet to Buy Apartment in City Centre 149.65 $ 131.28-282.61
Price per Square Feet to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre 90.14 $ 86.64-91.89
Salaries And Financing
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax) 455.71 $
Mortgage Interest Rate in Percentages (%), Yearly, for 20 Years Fixed-Rate 5.13 3.50-6.40

Prices in Chiang Mai

This city had 493 entries in the past 12 months by 59 different contributors.
Last update: July 2022
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16 Comments so far
Anonymous on Apr 14, 2022:
I live in Chiang Mai. It's quite cheap - a meal starts from 30 baht, for example. I rent a rooftop 1 bdr apartment for 6000, with an amazing view. My expenses rarely exceed 20k baht monthly.
Dorian on Nov 26, 2021:
For the people who ask about bugs and other pest, go to Youtube and you will be pest free soon.
Dorian on Nov 26, 2021:
I have lived in Chiang Mai since September of 2018 and I usually pay less than $1,000 a month. I live in a three bedroom, two bathroom house ( 8,500 byth per month, about $285 ) with a three car covered drive way, a large yard with empty lots to my left, right and across the street. I live with my Thai girlfriend and until November her two sons, her oldest just joined the Army. We buy from Food Panda and Grab Eats and get store deliveries. I have cable and internet and other bills but I still spend less than #1,000 per month. I am 58 years old, a person can spend less than I do and live well or spend a lot more. I have a Bangkok Hospital card but I am in good health so I save money by taking care of myself. The only time I spend more than $1,000 a month is when traveling ( the virus is making me save money ) and I had an operation. You can pay more to live in a mud hut if you do not know how to check prices ( online ). Everything cost less here, Thailand cost 1/3 to 1/5 of the cost of living in America, if you are a fool with money or need lots of medical care or want everything imported you will pay more.
Big Randy on Nov 20, 2021:
Some of you people are idiots. I lived in Chiang Mai for 6 months in 2019. Me and my Fiance and between the both of us, we found it hard to spend over 1000 a month US. We went out on day trips every weekend. Now we do not drink a lot of Alcohol, so that kept cost down. We stayed in a condo that had a pool and gym. We did not Struggle or deprive ourselves at all.

And the person talking about the Rats.... HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO NEW YORK...hahaha.. Chiang Mai is a great place and i can't wait to go back...
Dougly on May 09, 2021:
General question/suggestion:
For someone seeking to expatriate for retirement, the Quality of Life metric could be adjusted, since a retiree is not relying on local income. I assume the Quality of Life also takes into account the average income of local inhabitants, and if their purchasing power is low, this might not matter too much to a retiree from a more affluent country.

You might want to give some thought to that.

Thank you for everything!
Anonymous on Mar 13, 2021:
Been to Chiang Mai many times beginning from 2008, city became insane expensive Thai people thinks farangs have endless money but for me chiang mai is over.
Michel Bayot on Feb 10, 2019:
Congratulations for this compilation. It is indeed always a very difficult exercise to quantify living costs.
Whilst most of the figures regarding Chiang Mai looks correct to me (at least for itens that I know), I have 2 remarks
1. Apartments rents should be compared by sqm not by bedroom; 1 bedroom apartment can be 45sqm or 95 sqm or even more.
2. The figure of 1800B per month for water and electricity (including heating and/or aircondition) for 85sqm area is definitely not possibe. 3000B would be more realist (as for Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, ...). Electricity costs in Chiang Mai is unfortunately not 50% cheaper than those of other major cities in Thailand.
Best regards,
Han Thomas on Jan 27, 2019:
@Gary: because there is lots of things wrong with many of these numbers. And because 'rice' in Thailand comes in many grades; looking it up for today on a site of a major supermarket, for a 5 (five) kg bag it ranges from 75 Baht to 250 Baht. Take your pick. It's kind of like asking 'how much for a bottle of wine'.. well, it depends.

And the other thing that's problematic about the Numbeo approach is that the same list is used the world over, disregarding cultural differences. For example, a McDonald's meal is considered a very cheapo meal in most of the Western world. In Thailand it's marketed to the middle classes, with prices to match. So a fairer comparison would be 'How much for a quick & cheap meal in country X'. For Thailand that would end up around 60 Baht or so including a drink; not the 170 Baht I see in the list for a McDonalds meal.

A hamburger in Thailand is exotic foreign cuisine. So rather than using it as some sort of universal yardstick you need to compare a hamburger in the USA to a plate of Phad Thai (for example) in Thailand.
Gary on Jan 24, 2019:
I dont understand why 1KG of rice is the same price as it is in the UK? Is it exported free from Rice growing countries
Tim on Nov 22, 2018:
Hi Eric. Not sure who you were responding to. Maybe the entire string. I'm guessing your are young (20's maybe) and don't have health insurance. You are young and maybe haven't experienced a lot of the comforts that an older retiree either has gotten used to or is in need of due to their older age. My comments and perspective were from someone in their 60's that has gotten used to some of the nicer things in life like living in a place that has more than one room and not having to eat street food every day to adhere to a low budget.

Maybe a young person can live on $1000 or less over there since they live on a shoe-string budget, live in a tiny room and don't pay health insurance. A lot of us don't want to live on a shoe-string budget as a retiree. So, if you consider you'd be paying hundreds of dollars a month for health insurance as a retiree and more and more each year as you get older it adds up. That is a major reason for an older person to stay in the US as they have Medicare to help a lot with their health bills. You need to look at things thru the eyes of every age category and not just a millennial.

Yes, cooking at home is something I would do. Steaming a lot of cheap vegetables would indeed be both healthy and cost efficient.

I'm curious of your perspective on the rat, roach and mosquito issues. Have you experienced much with any of them? can I ask how old you are. It'll help me understand your comments better.
Erik on Nov 22, 2018:
I lived in Chiang Mai for two years from 2016-2018. Don't listen to the people on here saying it's even close to expensive. It's really not and can be done on $1,000 or less per month very easily.

"I will get tired Thai food. That must mean I need to go to expensive western restaurants every day. I also need a luxurious condo that fits my high western standards. This all adds up! It's almost as much as I was paying in the US!"

Oh were you living in a condo with a pool in the city center of a big city in the US? Oh were you eating out every day in the US? No. Not even close.

Sure, western restaurants do cost more ($6-10 per meal). But....gee, I don't know, maybe cook at home? Comparing a life where you eat at out everyday to one where you'd mostly cook at home is ridiculous. Simply put, you can live REASONABLY for a very cheap price here. Think eating locally or cooking western food at home, renting a decent place, and going to western restaurants a few times a week. This is still very nice living by the way.

If you expect to live like a king here, then yeah you might pay an amount that's equal to a frugal life in the US. But then you're comparing Apples and Oranges.
Tim on Nov 21, 2018:
Abe - I agree with you 100%. Prices in CM are headed higher and you never know how the exchange rate will change between the dollar and baht. It could be a blessing to folks retiring/living there from the US or a curse. I plan on visiting next year but have several friends who have lived there for many years. What you say about "low quality" in building is spot on according to my friends there. I had one friend tell me about how bad the termites are there. She said a friend of hers was visiting a friend and leaned on the kitchen counter and it collapsed. Caution when buying a home or condo there.

It's true that you can go to one of the food courts in the malls or grocery stores or even the street vendors and have a good meal for $2 but that's Thai food. It's good but do you really want it every meal? If not then you have to pay far more for a western meal.

All the rules there related to checking in with immigration is a lot to deal with in my opinion. You have to notify them every time you move and check in every 90 days to verify your address. Chiang Mai is no longer "true" Thailand as it's been overtaken by retirees from other countries and digital nomads. Just go to youtube and look at the night life. All you see are white people other than the Thai's working in the establishments.

I planned on living over there but now the costs are going up so much it would be cheaper to live in the USA and for many reasons Abe mentions.

Also, you have to deal with possible malaria and other mosquito transmitted diseases. Now, Has anyone talked about the huge population of RATS there? Google it and see the throngs of rats eating out of the plastic trash bags that establishments leave outside that are picked up in the early morning hours. Then one friend mentioned how her and her husband were eating dinner when a rat fell from the ceiling landing on their table and jumping on her husband while escaping. Then the owner and his Thai wife came over and looked up and saw a large snake up where the rat just fells from. NICE!!

Oh, and I heard about the cockroach problem there. Off the charts.

Abe has it right. Maybe VISIT Thailand but if you think living there long term is a good idea then think again. Just my two cents.
Abe on Nov 18, 2018:
I was working in Shanghai for years before deciding to move to Thailand. Wherever I looked downtown BK or CM that catered even remotely to foreigners, the prices rivaled those back home for me (US). I hired a local guide for a weekend. We looked at over TWO DOZEN apartments and efficiencies. They were all claustrophobic and, as someone else here has already said, low (construction, maintenance) quality. Yet they would have cost me the same as a mid-ranged 1-bedroom in the US Midwest. No way was I going to pay a comparable amount to live in Thailand as what I'd pay back home where I have far more autonomy, understand the legal system reasonably well, and am entitled to live wherever I want for as long as I want. I think a lot of these cost comparison guides don't take into effect the explosive increases in costs of living due to, as someone else said below, wealthy expats pouring into Thailand, driving costs up just the same way it's happening in our own countries.

By the time there's a large ex-pat scene somewhere, costs have significantly gone up. And by the time the wealthy investors arrive, game over. Thailand is fast becoming just that. I've also lived throughout Europe, North Africa, and South America and found the same trends there. Costa Rica/Panama/Morocco/Poland ... cheap. Nope! Not anymore. Add in the headaches with all the bureaucracy (not to mention the nearly universal unofficial perceived-rich-expat-taxes/fees) involved, returning home can be a bargain in comparison.
Berni on Oct 08, 2018:
A midrange, 3-course meal for 2 persons can be had for 500 baht - IF you eat Thai food.
However, if you prefer to eat western food, eg. Italian or French, your bill will be 1,200 baht and up.
Berni on Oct 08, 2018:
IMHO, the indicated rent prices for 1-bed-room-apartments might be misleading, because it is a comparison between pears and apples.
1) You cannot compare Thai construction quality wit European standards. As a result, even a 10 year old building can be totally worn out, not at least due to bad maintenance.
2) There are a lot of new condo buildings. However, most developers tend to build 1-BR-condos in shoebox-sizes, 34-42 sqm. I think, a good average for those is 14,000 baht monthly, based on a 1-year contract. A 75 sqm 1-BR will cost at least 20,000 baht.
3) Rental rates tend to rise further, due to a lot of China mainland expats with pockets full of money.
Berni on Oct 08, 2018:
Hi Mariana,
officially, you will need a work permit to work in a hotel in reception/bar. There are lot of Thai, you are competing with, speaking sufficient English. I assume, the average salary will be 20,000 baht in CM. IMHO, most hotels will shy away from the red tape for the work permit, if it is only for such an low level job.
In other tourist places in Thailand, you will also often observe Filipinas to cover English at the reception, working often without work permit and applying for an Education Visa, because the Thai salaries are higher than their salaries in Philippines.